Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Thursday, March 16th, 2023
NBC sees possible writer's strike as a way to ease out of the 10:00 pm hour
Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Thursday, March 16th, 2023.
No, it's your imagination. There was no newsletter yesterday due to an unplanned dental emergency. I'm back on the beat today, albeit sticking to soft foods for a day or two.
NBC EYES POSSIBLE WRITERS STRIKE AS A WAY TO EASE OUT OF 10:00 PM PRIMETIME HOUR
Several news reports last August suggested NBC was considering dropping the 10:00 pm primetime hour and returning the time back to its affiliate stations. In October, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in October said in an interview that the discussions had been taking place, but stressed that no final decisions had been made.
But due in part to pushback from advertisers, and by December Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, told advertising agencies during their presentations that NBC was sticking with the 10:00 pm hour of programming, at least through the 2023-24 broadcast season.
However, no assurance is legally binding and according to several sources at the network, some NBC executives are considering a shift away from scripted programming in the 10:00 p.m. hour, perhaps using a possible writer's strike as an excuse to change its mind.
According to one executive familiar with the discussions, one plan would involve creating a nightly NBC News block to air at 10:00 p.m. Affiliates could opt of the programming if they wished, but the shows would serve as a low-cost programming placeholder during an eventual transition to timeslot fully shifting to the affiliates.
The executive, who asked not to be identified because they weren't authorized to speak about the project, described the plans as something "in the early stages, but being seriously examined." The news hour would be a mix of straight news, some original reporting, and stories grabbed from NBC affiliates. There would be a bottom-of-the-hour carve-out for local affiliates to promote their upcoming local news and the NBC broadcast would be designed so local affiliates could opt out completely at 10:30 pm and go to an expanded local news broadcast.
Aside from the obvious personnel questions, one big question revolves around branding. NBC News executives reportedly favor "NBC News Now," which is also the name of its digital-only news network. It makes sense from a branding standpoint, but it's unclear whether affiliates will push back on a name that also promotes NBC's digital business. The network pitch is that the branding is a win-win for both sides. And more importantly, it doesn't make sense to develop branding for a project which may disappear in a year or two.
The plan would be to not commit to the idea unless a couple of different things align just right for the network. Executives are reportedly not thrilled with the range of new scripted projects that might be a good fit for that 10:00 pm hour. The thinking is that if the network can develop 3-4 likely dramas for that timeslot, it will move forward with keeping the hour filled with scripted programming. But if they're not convinced they have a strong potential drama roster, they would move towards a hybrid programming approach.
And a potential writer's strike would give the network cover for the move. The thinking is that if the strike stretches out to a month or more, the network can go to affiliates and argue that putting together an effective 10:00 pm scripted schedule will be too problematical in the face of a shutdown. The news hour plan would move forward and it would have the added bonus of giving the network five fresh hours of primetime programming.
While this news show strip is apparently a favored idea, I have had other ideas also floated to me. Including a "NBC Presents" branding, which would mean a variety of programs for the 10:00 pm hour. That likely means a second night of Dateline, some repurposed programming that has a lower profile (such as Dick Wolf's CNBC series Blood & Money) as well as a mix of game shows and other "unscripted" content.
To be honest, the idea has a lot of merits. NBC has struggled in the 10:00 pm hour in recent years and cutting back on that scripted programming would save quite a bit of money. But as Fox's experience shows, only having two hours of primetime real estate a night can be limiting, so it's not without risks. And perhaps the biggest risk would be to make the move and risk alienating affiliates when the already modest ratings for that hour go into free fall.
It's going to be interesting to see how this shakes out.
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ODDS AND SODS
* Season two of Home Town Makeover - starring Ben and Erin Napier (Home Town) and Dave and Jenny Marrs (Fixer to Fabulous) - premieres Sunday, April 23rd on HGTV.
* Sixteen military chefs are ready to put their culinary skills to the test in the new five-part tournament Chopped: Military Salute, which premieres Tuesday, April 25th on the Food Network.
* Today's 70s Song You Should Know: "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft" By The Carpenters.
* The vMVPD YouTube TV is going from $64.99 a month to $72.99 a month - an $8 increase. The service blames "increased content costs," which mostly means sports and local network affiliates.
* The series FBoy Island has been picked up by the CW for a third season after having been canceled by HBO Max.
I'D LIKE YOU TO WRITE A STORY THAT IS BOTH CLICKABLE AND INSANE. AND IF YOU COULD BASE IT ON A RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO, THAT WOULD BE PERFECT
WHAT'S NEW FOR THURSDAY:
Butchers Of The Bayou Series Premiere (A&E)
Death Of A Protester (Vice)
Good Trouble Season Premiere (Freeform)
Grown & Gospel Series Premiere (WE tv)
Queens Court Series Premiere (Peacock)
Queen Of The North (Viaplay)
Shadow And Bone Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
Spring Break Nightmare (LMN)
Still Time (Netflix)
The Glory (Netflix)
Zatima Season Premiere (BET+)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU FRIDAY!
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